Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Darien is turning 11??? What???

So my oldest son Darien is turning 11 today, and I really can't believe it. It really makes me feel old... Has it really been 11 years already?

Favorite toy : Legos
Favorite thing to play : Also legos
Favorite thing to eat : Pizza
Favorite TV show : Sponge Bob Square Pants
Favorite color : Green
Favorite place to visit : San Diego
Favorite book : Harry Potter and the Deadly Hollows
Favorite movie : Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows part 2
Favorite Video game : Luigi's Mansion Dark Moon

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Homeschooling FAQ

I've put together questions about homeschooling, these are questions that I have been asked personally, and hopefully they will be helpful to anyone who is considering homeschooling.

- How do you get started with homeschooling?
This of course is one of the more important questions because it is the first step. Every state has different homeschooling laws so the first step is finding out those laws. I recommend a Google search like "Washington Homeschooling laws" or whatever state you live in. Some states are very loose with their laws, and some states are very tight. Some states require you to be supervised, and some just require a test at the end of every year to make sure that your children are meeting academic standards. Some states also offer more than one option. If you don't understand the laws or if still don't know how to get stated after seeing the laws, I recommend either finding a local homeschooling group (most of them are on yahoo groups, just search for a group in your area "Homeschooling groups in Anne Arundel County Maryland"), or you could e-mail the board of education in your school distract. They usually have someone on staff that deals with homeschooling, and should be able to answer your questions. If they are not helping you in any way what so ever, driving to the office itself really helps (I've totally done this before), the whole I'm not leaving until you help me act really does wonders. They will help you tenfold just to get you out of their hair. :)

- Do you have to be really organized to homeschool?
I just want to start by saying that I am not a very organized person. Homeschooling does take organization but not an extreme amount. The way I see it is if I can do it (a person who is not very organized), than I'm sure you can too. The more you plan the easier it will be. You don't want your school year falling apart in the middle. If you would like to know how I plan out my school year please read this post. It may take some time to plan everything out, but you will be happy you did. If you are not good at that, then I would recommend going with a curriculum that comes already planed out (they do exist) (I think Alpha Omega is one of them).

- How do you pick a curriculum?
This also states with your state in some cases, because in curtain states there is a list of approved curriculums, but most states will let you do whatever so find out first. Then I would recommend talking to that homeschool group (the local one you need to join) and ask different people about their curriculum. Some curriculums a very laid out with test and quizzes included, some are just the books and leave the test and quizzes up to you (they give you full control), and some are all online. It really all depends on what kind of person you are, and how you want to do things. So ask questions, and find out.

- What curriculum do you use?
I get ask this a lot! Which is a good thing. I use Abeka, and it's a curriculum that comes with the test and quizzes already made up (because I really didn't want to have to do that myself), but it is also a really tough curriculum, and it's really challenging. You have to teach a lot and with math there is a lot of drilling. I feel like it keeps my kids and me on our toes (we really need that). With all curriculums there is good and bad, which is why asking questions is important.

- What happens if you need help teaching your kids curtain subjects?
This of course depends on what that subject is. If it is something extra curricular like art, music or sports ,you can sign them up for art classes (YMCA or town civic centre), or a local sports team for sports. If it is something more academic then look for local co-ops or if worse comes to worse you can get a tutor. I ended up getting one for my son Nathaniel when he had a really hard time learning to read. We had her come to our house twice a week and she really help me learn different ways of teaching him, and he learned a lot in just a few months. Note it was expensive, but totally worth it. If you don't want to spend your money on a tutor than ask some other homeschooling moms on their methods of teaching curtain subjects.

- What is a co-op?
A co-op is either a group of moms, church staff, or state provided teachers that teach curtain classes to homeschooled kids. Some co-ops are provided by the state, some are just a group of parents who got together and pooled all of their teaching methods (each teaching a different subject to a group of kids), and some are provided by different churches who just want to help homeschooled kids. Once again if this is something you are interested in, a Google search should help you find out if there is one near you ("Homeschool Co-op in Kitsap Country").

- How long should your school year last?
This is completely up to you. I like to do about 36 weeks (give or take), but the best way to do it (or the way that works best for me) is to print up a calender for the upcoming school year then plan your days off for thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring break, ext... Then figure out when you want your school year to end and when you want it to start, from there you can pull out the books and figure out how much work you would have to do each week to finish on time (sounds like a lot of work, I know). Like I said 36 weeks seems to be that magic number of weeks for us. Everyone is different though, some like to have busy days, and some like to take it easy. Some like to have the luxury of taking time off more often, and some would rather not. This is why homeschooling is so cool, because it is up to you, and if you have the type of lifestyle where you travel a lot or have a lot of activities or if you just like to have a lot of free time, homeschooling is the answer.

- How do your children socialize with others in their age group if they are homeschooled?
People wonder and worry about this one a lot. I have had people tell me that I shouldn't homeschool because of the lack of socialization that happens when you homeschool. These people honestly don't understand that there are different ways to meet people, and school isn't the only place my children can go to make friends. They meet friends at co-op, church, homeschool groups, ext... True if you do stay at home and never do any of these things than yes they will not be socializing and that would be bad, but in most cases us homeschooling moms are very active and knowledgeable about what we are doing and how it will affect them. We research everything. We care deeply for our children which is why we want to homeschool them, and we don't do this lightly.

- Do you think homeschooling is for everyone?
No of course not. I think that in some cases some children do better in a school setting, and they may even need and enjoy that more, but I also think that public schooling is not for everyone (that's right I said it). It is very generic and with some children it just doesn't help them. Some children get lost in the class room setting, and advance only because their class does, and they don't end up learning curtain things. There are times when someone notices a child struggling, but then they just make excuses as to why their system is not working for this child, and they try to stick a label on them saying "oh well it's ADHD, and you need to put your child on medication." I just don't believe that the system works for everyone. One of my friends shared this video on facebook a few weeks ago, and it really does explain why our public schools don't work for everyone. True it does work for most, but what if your child isn't like most other children?

I really hope this helped anyone who was considering homeschooling. If you have any other questions or if you have any points that you feel should be added, please message me (e-mail, comment, Facebook, whatever) and I will add it to this post and credit you. Thank you to everyone who asked these questions. :)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

When is your reading time?

Jeremy and I really put an emphasis on reading. We really want our children to know how important reading really is. When I was little I hated to read, because I found it really difficult, and I really didn't want to take to time to practice and get better. It wasn't until after I got married, and Jeremy started reading to me, that I wanted to read more. He inspired me to read out loud, and read a lot of books, a lot of different books. My son Darien is a lot like him. Darien will read without me telling him to. He will check out 5 books when we are at the library and have read all of them by the end of the week, and that's just the kind of person he is. My other two sons are like me. Reading isn't easy for them, and they need to set aside time just for reading. So everyday at 4pm is our reading time (for the kids anyways). This is usually about the time I start to make dinner. While I'm making dinner, the boys come and read to me a few lines in whatever book they are reading. It's nice, the house is quiet (well mostly) and my kids are practicing.

Last month my son Zachary had to write a "Persuasive Essay" for our home school supervisor. This is what he wrote.

Reading Time

by Zachary Legates

     I think that reading is important because it helps to train your brain so you will read better and it helps with spelling. Reading can also help with history, science, and health because you have to read and understand your work, so reading helps with almost everything in school.
     I think everyone should read for an hour everyday because it's fun and relaxing. Reading can settle you down for bed, it can also make you sleepy.
     When you are reading you can think of a picture in your head of the whole book and you can imagine that you are in the book while you are reading. So reading is also good for your imagination. I like reading I will read everyday.

This is from my son in the third grade. WOW! Note I did have to correct some spelling. I did however leave the grammar alone, because he is only 8. How cool is that though? He hated to idea of having to read "for a whole hour everyday," but now he loves it, and knows its importance. I want my children to know how important it is to read, write, and speak properly, so that way they are taken seriously. I know from experience that reading more really helps in this area. I'm sure you are thinking "well yeah, everyone knows that," and you are right, but how many people actually do that? Or encourage their kids to do that?  All I have to say is it's never to late to start.

I also have more encouraging news. Nathaniel (my son with ADD), is doing so much better with his school work. He is now able to sound words out like a pro, and has a huge list of words he knows just by sight. I'm so proud of the progress he has made over this past school year. I really thought he would never learn and that I may never be able to teach him myself, but finding help and taking deep breaths does wonders (not to mention trusting God, he really has helped me). :)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

One year in Washington

So you know by the tile what this post is going to be about. I for one still can't believe it. Has it really been a year already? I must say that this place has really tested me. I really feel like it was a harder year than it should have been. It was not as hard as my first year in Charleston, SC but it is next to it (as far as first year in a new place).  Charleston was my first time away from my family, and it was a hard first year because I missed them very much, Jeremy was working all of the time (this is when I thought that was all of the time) (that was nothing compared to a deployment or any sea duty, which is actually working all of the time), I had a baby to take care of, and I didn't really know anyone there. It was a bad first year.

Here I just think that the stress of buying a new house right after moving across country, the weather, and also the fact that I have met very few people here, are the reasons why this as been a tough year. I guess it could always be worse. Other than all of that I think I'm adapting fine. A few weeks ago I deemed myself a true Washingtonian because when I started the car I switched on the windshield wipers out of habit, and it was sunny out. I guess I'm just use to it raining all of the time. I'm still not sure I like it here to much. I feel as if I am really trying though. It is beautiful here with the mountains and all, but you don't get to see them on most days, and I feel like the area is very run down. There isn't much here in the first place, and the whole area could use some TLC. I guess after living in nicer cities you get standards.

I've had a lot of late night talks with God since moving here. Most of it has been WHY, why here? I still believe he has his reasons, and I know I need to respect that, and I am. So because of that I'm just trying my hardest to find a way to like this place, to find a way to keep every other place I love more than here (lets face it, at is point it's almost everywhere) out of my mind. I'm trying to just love this place for what it is, and be happy that I'm here. Oh if only Jessica and Jessica lived here, I'm sure they would keep my spirits up. Hear that you two? You guys willing to move out here? Yup after I just talked so highly about this place... please ;)

Okay switching subjects now. So guess who is joining the Military wife lifestyle? My little sister Shelby. She got engaged to a Marine a few weeks ago (Also named Randy, so now family reunions will be very confusing with him, my dad, and me all named Randy/Randi). I just got the news Wednesday that she will be moving to Hawaii in the fall (yeah WOW). He's in "A" school right now, and should be moving in October. There is so much for her to do, and learn but I know she will be fine. How exciting this that though, that your first duty station is in Hawaii? Needless to say I very excited for her. I know she will love it there, and do just fine. I am also slightly jealous Hawaii sounds like an awesome place to live.

Oh and also I started a garden (I know this post is all over the place).

It was not easy. Our house was a remodel, that someone bought just to make a profit. So after they remodeled they covered the backyard with sod, which is great until you decide to dig it up. Yeah that took a while. After all of that I began to till the ground. That was not easy either because we have a lot of rocks apparently. So I finally finish that, then I poured potting soil on top and then planted. I got all of the plants at Lowes. I've always wanted a vegetable garden, but I have never really been successful at it. I would always plant one, then our dog would always destroy it. This is one of the many reasons why I'm not much of a dog person (Jeremy however is). I'll have to let you guys know if it works out this time.